Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Arcade Fire

(not Charlton related)

Thanks to a miscommunication with the immigration officer that welcomed me back to the US last weekend, tomorrow will be the most pointless day of my life. Instead of stamping my passport with 'March 31st 2009', he instead stamped it with 'March 31st 2007'.

Despite my best efforts to get the mistake corrected, I have been advised to leave the country and return again before Saturday to ensure I don't inadvertently become an 'illegal immigrant'. It's a complete waste of time and money, but I'm not yet ready to change my name to José and clear tables in New York restaurants. Hence tomorrow I will be flying to Montreal, hanging around in the airport for a couple of hours and then flying straight back home again. What this administrative cock-up is doing to my 'carbon footprint' I daren't even imagine.

The only bright spot of this unexpected trip is that it affords me brief homage to the hometown of my favourite band of the moment, Arcade Fire. Their first album 'Funeral' is the most outstanding album I have heard in a decade, and their latest offering 'Neon Bible' again has me shaking my head in sheer wonder. Their music is dark, beautiful and overlaid with as many instruments as an orchestra; you will hate it the first time you listen to it, and then one day like me, you'll have an ephiphany.

After an inauspicious beginning, Arcade Fire slowly built a reputation that translated into genuine record sales, and generated a following that borders on fanaticism. It must be a frustration that the painfully mediocre Coldplay sell millions more records, but in fairness Chris Martin had the humility to declare Arcade Fire to be, "..the greatest band in the history of music." Then again I think a band needs to sell a critical mass of records to be taken seriously in the music annals, else an obscure band's 'genius' offering borders upon narcissism.

There is something special though about hearing an epic debut album, though it is usually tempered by a band's second offering. For example in recent years The Stone Roses, The Libertines, (yep, Daily Mail readers, that's Pete Doherty), The Strokes, and even Oasis produced impeccable debuts, yet each followed it up with solid yet unspectacular follow-ups.

However whilst 'Neon Bible' doesn't quite match the majesty of 'Funeral', I think Arcade Fire have just about met the near-impossible expectations they set themselves. In terms of back-to-back albums that actually generated some reasonable sales, I would consider them to be equal or even superior to, 'The Bends' and 'OK Computer' by Radiohead in the 1990s. However whilst Radiohead tend to leave me in a something of a hypnotic trance, it is hard not to be energised by Arcade's Fire, well....energy.

There were some exceptional bands/performers in the 1960s-80s period of course, but productivity has been hampered by the short-termism of the labels and incessant touring. When bands like The Fall or Sonic Youth churn out dozens (of usually brilliant) albums, they very much become the exception that proves the rule, which is why I urge you to embrace Arcade Fire before they too 'burn themselves out'.

9 Comments:

At 2:59 AM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Too bad you are just going to spend a couple of hours at the airport. Montreal is one of the very interesting and enjoyable cities on this continent.

 
At 3:22 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Agreed, I spent a week there in June last year. Unfortunately on this occasion, I am not able to turn the immigration mistake into a proper boondoggle.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

That is always my worry. If the immigration officers could speak English, then maybe mistakes wouldn't be made. Annoys me greatly that you get interrogated at the immigration desk by people who I am more American than!

Anyway, I'm about to go into itunes and give Arcade Fire a whirl.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger worcestershireleaburn said...

The organised chaos of Arcade Fire live has yet to be fully captured on CD - I was lucky enough to tape their Paris show when it was shown on Channel 4 over a year ago - lucky as I hadn't heard them at that point, only read about them - and it is just fantastic. Worth watching if it ever gets shown again, and of course now's a good time to catch them in the flesh as they tour the new album.

 
At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Goldie said...

Hey mate

Didn't realsie you were a fan of Sonic Youth as well. I have tix to see them in Camden in September at a gig where they will only play tracks from what is in my eyes, the best album, Daydream Nation. Should be a corker. By the way, check out the link in my sig, think you may find it relevant for you. It's totally safe for work, depsite the name...

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger Philip Medway said...

I was lucky enough to see Arcade Fire twice recently - once during their warm up mini-tour with a very intimate gig at the Porchester Halls and a couple of weeks ago at the Brixton Academy. I would agree with Mr Leaburn that they really need to be seen live and you can still stream a 2005 gig in Amsterdam from www.fabchannel.com
Just enter Arcade Fire in the search engine and enjoy. They are truly one of the best bands to emerge in many a year. My review of Neon Bible is here..

http://medwayfoundation.blogspot.com/2007/02/religious-theme-that-extends-throughout.html

 
At 6:01 AM, Anonymous vancouveraddick said...

yeah excellent band but you're having a laugh saying they're better than radiohead.

 
At 6:02 AM, Anonymous vancouveraddick said...

I mean even suggesting they're better than radiohead..... sorry

 

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